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“Pearl,” said she, sadly, “look down at thy feet! There!—before thee!—on the hither side of the brook!” “Pearl,” she said sadly, “look down at your feet! There—in front on you—on the other side of the brook!”
The child turned her eyes to the point indicated; and there lay the scarlet letter, so close upon the margin of the stream, that the gold embroidery was reflected in it. The child looked where her mother had indicated. The scarlet letter lay there, so close to the edge of the stream that the gold embroidery was reflected in the water.
“Bring it hither!” said Hester. “Bring it here!” said Hester.
“Come thou and take it up!” answered Pearl. “You come here and pick it up!” replied Pearl.
“Was ever such a child!” observed Hester aside to the minister. “O, I have much to tell thee about her. But, in very truth, she is right as regards this hateful token. I must bear its torture yet a little longer,—only a few days longer,—until we shall have left this region, and look back hither as to a land which we have dreamed of. The forest cannot hide it! The mid-ocean shall take it from my hand, and swallow it up for ever!” “Was there ever a child like this?” Hester asked the minister. “I have so much to tell you about her! But she is right about this hateful symbol. I must bear its torture a little longer—but only a few days longer. When we have left this region, we will look back on it as though it were a dream. The forest cannot hide the scarlet letter, but the ocean will take it from my hand and swallow it up forever!”
With these words, she advanced to the margin of the brook, took up the scarlet letter, and fastened it again into her bosom. Hopefully, but a moment ago, as Hester had spoken of drowning it in the deep sea, there was a sense of inevitable doom upon her, as she thus received back this deadly symbol from the hand of fate. She had flung it into infinite space!—she had drawn an hour’s free breath!—and here again was the scarlet misery, glittering on the old spot! So it ever is, whether thus typified or no, that an evil deed invests itself with the character of doom. Hester next gathered up the heavy tresses of her hair, and confined them beneath her cap. As if there were a withering spell in the sad letter, her beauty, the warmth and richness of her womanhood, departed, like fading sunshine; and a gray shadow seemed to fall across her. With these words, she walked to edge of the brook, picked up the scarlet letter, and fastened it again onto her bosom. Just a moment earlier, Hester had spoken hopefully of drowning the letter in the deep sea. But there was a sense of inevitable doom about her now, as though fate itself had returned the deadly symbol to her. She had thrown it off into the universe! She had breathed free for an hour! And now the scarlet misery was glittering once again, right in its old spot! It’s always this way. An evil deed, whether symbolized or not, always takes on the appearance of fate. Hester gathered up the heavy locks of her hair and hid them beneath the cap. Her beauty, the warmth and richness of her womanhood, left her like fading sunshine. A gray shadow seemed to fall on her. It was as though there was a withering spell in the sad letter.
When the dreary change was wrought, she extended her hand to Pearl. When the change was complete, she extended her hand to Pearl.
“Dost thou know thy mother now, child?” asked she, reproachfully, but with a subdued tone. “Wilt thou come across the brook, and own thy mother, now that she has her shame upon her,—now that she is sad?” “Do you recognize your mother now, child?” she asked. There was a subdued reproach in her voice. “Will you come across the brook and acknowledge your mother, now that she has her shame upon her—now that she is sad?”
“Yes; now I will!” answered the child, bounding across the brook, and clasping Hester in her arms. “Now thou art my mother indeed! And I am thy little Pearl!” “Yes, now I will!” answered the child. She bounded across the brook and wrapped Hester in her arms. “Now you are my mother again, and I am your little Pearl!”
In a mood of tenderness that was not usual with her, she drew down her mother’s head, and kissed her brow and both her cheeks. But then—by a kind of necessity that always impelled this child to alloy whatever comfort she might chance to give with a throb of anguish—PearI put up her mouth, and kissed the scarlet letter too! In a tender mood that was unusual for her, she lowered her mother’s head and kissed her forehead and both cheeks. But then—as though the child needed to mix a throb of pain into any comfort she might give—Pearl kissed the scarlet letter too.
“That was not kind!” said Hester. “When thou hast shown me a little love, thou mockest me!” “That was not nice!” said Hester. “When you have shown me a little love, you mock me!”
“Why doth the minister sit yonder?” asked Pearl. “Why is the minister sitting over there?” asked Pearl.
“He waits to welcome thee,” replied her mother. “Come thou, and entreat his blessing! He loves thee, my little Pearl, and loves thy mother too. Wilt thou not love him? Come! he longs to greet thee!” “He’s waiting to welcome you,” replied her mother. “Come, and ask for his blessing! He loves you, my little Pearl, and he loves your mother too. Won’t you love him? Come, he’s waiting to greet you.”
“Doth he love us?” said Pearl, looking up with acute intelligence into her mother’s face. “Will he go back with us, hand in hand, we three together, into the town?” “Does he love us?” asked Pearl, looking into her mother’s face with a sharp intelligence. “Will he go back into the town with us, hand in hand?”
“Not now, dear child,” answered Hester. “But in days to come he will walk hand in hand with us. We will have a home and fireside of our own; and thou shalt sit upon his knee; and he will teach thee many things, and love thee dearly. Thou wilt love him; wilt thou not?” “Not now, my child,” answered Hester. “But soon he will walk hand in hand with us. We will have a home and a hearth of our own. You will sit upon his knee, and he will teach you many things and love you dearly. You will love him—won’t you?”
“And will he always keep his hand over his heart?” inquired Pearl. “Will he always keep his hand over his heart?” asked Pearl.
“Foolish child, what a question is that!” exclaimed her mother. “Come and ask his blessing!” “Silly child, what kind of question is that?” exclaimed her mother. “Come here and ask his blessing!”
But, whether influenced by the jealousy that seems instinctive with every petted child towards a dangerous rival, or from whatever caprice of her freakish nature, Pearl would show no favor to the clergyman. It was only by an exertion of force that her mother brought her up to him, hanging back, and manifesting her reluctance by odd grimaces; of which, ever since her babyhood, she had possessed a singular variety, and could transform her mobile physiognomy into a series of different aspects, with a new mischief in them, each and all. The minister—painfully embarrassed, but hoping that a kiss might prove a talisman to admit him into the child’s kindlier regards—bent forward, and impressed one on her brow. Hereupon, Pearl broke from her mother, and, running to the brook, stooped over it, and bathed her forehead, until the unwelcome kiss was quite washed off, and diffused through a long lapse of the gliding water. She then remained apart, silently watching Hester and the clergyman; while they talked together, and made such arrangements as were suggested by their new position, and the purposes soon to be fulfilled. But Pearl would not show any affection toward the clergyman. Perhaps she was jealous of the attention her mother paid to the minister, as parents’ pets often are. Or perhaps it was another of her inexplicable whims. Whatever the reason, Pearl could only be brought over to the minister by force, hanging back and grimacing all the while. Ever since she had been a baby, she’d had an incredible array of grimaces. She could pull her face into many shapes, with a different mischief in each one. The minister was greatly embarrassed but hoped that a kiss might win him entrance into the child’s good thoughts. He bent forward and placed one on her forehead—at which Pearl broke free of her mother and ran off to the brook. Stooping over the water, she washed her forehead until the unwelcome kiss was entirely gone, spread throughout the flowing brook. She stood alone, silently watching Hester and the clergyman as the two talked and planned.